The Dog Days of Summer
By Randy Nettles
The dog days of summer are upon us. Here is how Wikipedia describes the origin of this common saying: “The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. They are now taken to be the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Various computations of the dog days have placed their start anywhere from the 3rd of July to the 15th of August and lasting for anywhere from 30 to 61 days.”
It’s getting hot all over the world…extremely hot. The last month was the hottest June ever recorded. In fact, 2019 may be the hottest year yet because of El Nino and other climate factors…and we are just getting started in these dog days of summer. Of course this is nothing compared to what it’s going to be like during the latter part of the Tribulation. “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which has power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory” (Revelation 16:8-9).
Not only does temperatures rise during these summer time months, but also tempers. More fights and wars start in the summer than in any other time of the year. Tempers rise and restraint lowers. The result is bad judgment that is acted upon; in other words…war. Most of the ancient world powers such as Egypt, Israel, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome usually fought their major battles during the summer and early autumn months when there was not much rain or inclement weather.
The modern State of Israel came into existence on May 14, 1948 (Iyar 5, 5708 on the Jewish calendar) when David Ben Gurion called to order a historic meeting and read Israel’s Declaration of Independence. For the first time in more than two thousand years, there was an independent Jewish state of Israel. The day after Israel declared its independence, it was attacked by five Arab nations: Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
They fought all during those dog days of summer that year and by the end of 1948, the Israeli army had defeated the Arab nations. It was one of the greatest military victories ever for Israel, rivaling even the fall of Jericho. Of course, God miraculously intervened on Israel’s behalf and the victory was assured…just like at Jericho (only not as obvious).
In 1967, Egypt and Syria sent troops to the Sinai Peninsula and forced the United Nations Emergency Forces based there to leave. On June 5, 1967 (Iyar 26, 5727 on Jewish calendar), during the dog days of summer, Israel responded with a preemptive strike, demolishing the Egyptian air force in just three hours. Israeli forces captured the Gaza Strip and the Sinai, then conquered the Old City of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. The conquest took six days and became known as the Six Day War. Jerusalem, the holy city, was once again in the possession of Israel. Iyyar 26 is now celebrated as Jerusalem Day.
Some of Israel’s worst historical moments as a nation/s occurred during the dog days of summer. They are known as fast days or days of mourning. There are four fasts mentioned by the prophet Zechariah that commemorates some tragic event connected with the destruction of their holy Temple and the city of Jerusalem. They occur during the fourth, fifth, seventh, and the tenth month of the Jewish calendar. This article only takes into consideration the fourth and fifth months.
The fast of the fourth month, Tammuz, occurs on the 17th day of Tammuz (usually July). The fast of the fifth month Av (usually August), occurs on the 9th day of Av. Tammuz 17th begins a three-week period (21 days) of national mourning leading up to the fast of Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of Av.
Three spiritually significant events have happened on the 17th day of Tammuz. Each event involved the breaking of a spiritual symbol that signified God’s disfavor that had been incurred as a result of national disobedience. A mourning period followed due to the Jewish people’s consciousness of their sin and their recognition that God’s punishment would follow.
1) Moses breaks the tablets of the law (10 commandments) at the foot of Mount Sinai. On the seventh day of Sivan (3rd month), Moses went up Mount Sinai to meet his creator and to receive His spoken and written Law, which he later recorded in the first five books of the Bible. He was on the mountain for forty days. The Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Sivan 17, 1446 B.C., approximately 63 days after the Exodus from Egypt (Nisan 14). Moses returned on the 17th day of Tammuz to the spectacle of the Israeli idolaters worshipping a man-made golden statue of a calf as their God…just as they had done during their 400 year slavery stint in Egypt.
As you can imagine, Moses lost his temper during the dog days of summer and broke the original 10 commandment tablets of stone (written by God himself) by throwing them onto the ground at the feet of the idolaters. About three thousand men were killed as a result of this grave sin. Moses lost his temper but it was righteous anger; and therefore not a sin. God never mentions the broken tablets to Moses or reprimands him. It reminds me of Jesus’ righteous anger when he drove out the money changers from the holy Temple in Jerusalem at Passover (Mark 11:15-17). Sometimes people just have to learn the hard way…it’s the way of the world.
2) The Babylonian army breaks through the walls of Jerusalem and causes the daily sacrifice in the temple to cease. This tragic event occurred on Tammuz 17th 586 BC. The date on our modern Gregorian calendar was June 19, 586 BC. This day became an annual fast of mourning for the Jews and lasts twenty one days until the ninth of Av, the day of remembrance of the loss of the Temple.
3) The Roman army stopped the daily sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem. In AD 70, General Titus besieged Jerusalem because of their rebellion against Rome. Roman army catapults were positioned to continuously catapult large boulders onto the Temple and kill large numbers of priests. This tragic event forced the priests to discontinue the daily sacrifice on the 17th of Tammuz, the anniversary of the exact day on which the Babylonian army caused the same damage 655 years earlier. It was another hot summer day in July…the exact date was July 11, AD 70 on the Gregorian calendar and July 13, AD 70 on the Julian calendar.
The next historical anniversary date for Israel, Tisha B’Av, occurs on the 9th day of Av. Av is the 5th month on the Jewish calendar. Tisha B’Av is not one of the appointed Feast days of the Lord, but is a fast and a day of mourning. The current Jewish calendar year is 5779. This year the 9th day of Av is on August 9, 2019. Nine seems to be an unlucky number for Israel, for it is the number of judgment and/or finality. Here are a few examples other than Tisha B’Av:
“In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes” (2 Kings 17:6).
“In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it” (Jeremiah 39:1).
“And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land” (Jeremiah 52:6).
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
There have been eight tragic events for the Jewish people that have occurred throughout history on this 9th day of Av, known as Tisha B’Av. If it happens again on this date, it will be for the 9th time.
1) Twelve Jewish spies survey the Promised Land – Moses sent out 12 tribal leaders to spy out the land and its inhabitants for 40 days prior to entering the Promised Land of Canaan. 10 of the 12 spies returned with negative reports about how impossible it would be to conquer the enemy, due to mighty giants living in the land. Even after witnessing God’s miracles and His promise of victory, the 10 spies showed no faith that the newly formed nation of Israel could prevail and take the land from the enemy. They advised the children of Jacob against going to war against the Canaanites.
The Bible records that the people believed the evil report and mourned all night in fear. They turned against Moses, Aaron, and the two faithful spies (Caleb and Joshua). Some rebels in the group led an attempt to stone Moses and to return to the bondage of Egypt. “According to the ancient Jewish commentary, the Mishna (Ta’anit 29a), this event occurred on the 9thday of the month of Av”, in the year 2317 on the Jewish calendar.  The date on our modern Gregorian calendar was July 8, 1444 BC, on a Friday.
God destroyed the rebel leaders and informed the people they would wander in the wilderness for forty-years for their rebellion and disobedience…one year for every day the spies had searched out the land. This tragic rebellion and unbelief in God’s promises caused the temporary loss of the Promised Land for an entire generation. Everyone 20 years and older would not live to enter the Promised Land, save for Caleb and Joshua. “Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel; and the people mourned greatly” (Numbers 14:39). From this day on, the 9th of Av became a “fast” of mourning as the Jews wept over their lack of obedience to God and their subsequent punishment.
2) The destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians – The Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in 588 BC. After a 2 year siege they breached the walls on the 17th day of the 4th month of Tammuz. The Babylonians broke through the city walls, killed multitudes, burned the Temple, and took its precious vessels. This tragic event occurred on Av 9, 3175 (July 10, 586 BC), on a Monday.
“According to the Jewish commentary, Me’am Lo’ez, by Rabbi Yakov Culi and Rabbi Aguiti, and other historical sources, including Ta’anit 29a, from the Jerusalem Talmud; the Babylonian army fought their way into the Temple on the 7th day of Av. The soldiers ate, drank, and caroused there until the 9th of Av. And toward evening, they set the Temple on fire. It burned all night and through the next day, the 10th of Av. Jeremiah, the prophet, was an eyewitness to the tragic event. This national tragedy has been commemorated by the Jews ever since the solemn fast, on the 9th of Av, known as Tisha B’Av. For more than 2000 years, the Jews have read the book of Lamentations in which Jeremiah laments the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the great Temple of Solomon.”
3) The destruction of the second temple by the Romans – The Romans had been at war with the Jews since AD 66. They finally were about to crush the revolt by destroying their capitol, Jerusalem, in AD 70. Over 1,250,000 people were surrounded inside the city by the Roman legions. The original attack had occurred on the Feast of Passover when a huge number of pilgrims came to the Temple to give sacrifices and were thereby trapped in the city.
The Roman general Titus offered terms of surrender that would have preserved the Jews city and Temple, but the Jews refused. Thus the city and the Temple were destroyed on Av 9, 3830 (August 1, AD 70), on a Friday. This tragic event fulfilled Jesus prophecy 37 years earlier when he said, “for the days shall come upon you, that your enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side, and shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you: and they shall not leave in you one stone upon another, because you knew not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:43-44).
This prophecy was fulfilled to the smallest detail. As the Temple burned with tremendous heat, the sheets of gold that covered much of the Temple melted. The molten gold ran down into the cracks between the foundation stones. Afterwards, the Roman soldiers used wedges to overturn every stone to get to the gold, thus fulfilling Christ’s words.
4) The Romans plowed Jerusalem and the Temple Mount – One year after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple , the Romans plowed the Temple Mount and the city. This occurred on Av 9, 3831 (July 22, AD 71), on a Wednesday. This was a complete fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah, “Therefore shall Zion for your sakes be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountains of the house as the high places of the forest” (Micah 3:12).
“A rabbinical source (Ta’anit 26b), records this was done to turn the city into a Roman colony.”
5) The destruction of Simon Bar Kochba’s army – After the fall of Jerusalem, there was a period of enforced peace between Rome and Israel. In AD 133, a dynamic warrior named Simon Bar Kocbha, led a rebellion against Rome. He was successful for two years until Emperor Hadrian and his vast Roman army destroyed the Jewish rebels. Many people believed that Bar Kochba was the Jewish Messiah, including the famous scholar Rabbi Akiba. The Jews still believed the Jewish Messiah would be a great warrior and would lead Israel in victory against the Romans and other enemies.
This event partially fulfilled the prophecy by Jesus when he said, “I am come in my Father’s name, and you receive me not; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43). On that terrible day of the 9th of Av, in the Jewish year 3895 (August 3, AD 135), on a Wednesday; the last great army of an independent Israel (ancient) was slaughtered without mercy. The prophet Isaiah may have referred to this event when he prophesied, “Within sixty five years Ephraim (Israel) will be too shattered to be a people” (Isaiah 7:8).
6) England expelled the Jews – Following condemnation of the Jewish Talmud by Pope Gregory IX in the year AD 1236, criticism of Jews increased and Jewish communities began to be displaced throughout Western Europe. King Edward I of England issued a declaration in 1275, cancelling all debts owed to Jews and forbidding them from making any loans to non-Jews. In addition, Edward arrested a number of Jewish leaders, demanding a ransom before releasing them. On Av 9, 5050 (July 24, AD 1290), on a Monday; King Edward expelled all Jews from England, confiscating all their assets for himself.
The history of England’s rise and fall can be traced to this ancient prophecy in the book of Genesis. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). England’s decline started approximately at this time and continued until 400 years later, when Oliver Cromwell, granted the Jews the legal right of settlement in 1657. England prospered at this time and later. At the end of World War I, a victorious England held power through its British Empire over one-quarter of the world.
In the 1920s and throughout the period until 1948, England repeatedly reversed its promises to the League of Nations and failed to provide a national homeland for the Jews (as promised by the Balfour declaration). During World War II, the Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis of Germany, because they had no homeland to flee to when the persecution of Adolf Hitler began. Even the U.S. turned down many Jewish immigrants that were trying to enter the country at this time.
In the years between 1917 through 1948, England lost her vast empire; and was no longer the world’s preeminent superpower.
7) Spain expelled the Jews – On Av 9, 5252 (August 10, AD 1492), on a Wednesday; the Spanish government ordered the expulsion of Jews from Spain. Every Jew who would not immediately be baptized was required to leave the country. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, desiring to create an entirely Catholic nation, sought to erase Judaism from Spain.
The Spanish Empire declined at this point…never to fully recover. On this same day in history, Christopher Columbus left Spain and discovered the New World. This event was significant to the Jews because eventually America provided a place of refuge for the Jewish people. When the new nation of Israel was reborn in 1948, the U.S. of America became Israel’s strongest advocate and protector. The United States was the first country to recognize Israel as a nation of the world. America’s rise to world power status began with her friendship with Israel …for God said, “I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you.” (Genesis 12:3).
8) Russia Mobilized for WWI and launched persecutions against the Jews – On Av 9, 5674 (July 31, 1914), on a Friday, World War I was declared by Russia and Germany. The mobilization of Russia’s army triggered persecutions and attacks against the Jews in eastern Russia, killing tens of thousands, and forced many to immigrate to the Holy Land. This immigration helped set the stage for the historical events leading to the creation of the modern nation of Israel in 1948.
World War I might have been the start of the prophecy by Jesus when he told his disciples “nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7). More than 12 million people died during this “war to end all wars.”
Of course World War II followed along with many more wars throughout the decades. War is still coming for us all, but especially for Israel. The prophecy of Isaiah 17 has still not been fulfilled, as Damascus is still in existence. “The burden of Damascus, behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1). Many believe Psalm 83 is an unfulfilled prophecy regarding a war between Israel and a confederacy of her hostile neighboring nations. Yes, some of these prophecies could see their fulfillment during the dog days of summer…perhaps on one of the fast days for Israel, such as Tammuz 17th or Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of Av).
Also, the prophecies of Jeremiah 49:35-39 and Ezekiel 38 have not yet been fulfilled. Jeremiah’s prophecy is in regard to the destruction of Elam or Iran. Ezekiel’s prophecy (known as the Gog/Magog war) is about the miraculous defeat of Russia and the confederacy of Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, Libya, and others that come against Israel in the latter days. God himself will intervene in behalf of Israel, as in the days of old; and will decimate these enemies of God’s people.
The Bible speaks of a time when Israel’s fasts will turn into feasts. “Thus says the Lord of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace” (Zechariah 9:19). There will be no more war for the children of Jacob…no more dog days of summer.
This time of joy will occur when Jesus, the Messiah, returns to the earth to set up his Millennium Kingdom in the fall season (Tishri, the 7th month), after He fulfills the 5th, 6th, and 7th Feasts of the Lord. The remnant of Jewish believers that are still alive after the Tribulation will inherit all of the land God originally promised to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Jews will finally become what God intended for them to be…a blessing unto the nations and they will lead many to the Lord.
“For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. And it shall come to pass, that as you were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong” (Zechariah 8: 12-13).
Randy can be reached at: [email protected]